Why the people of Ghana or Mexico do they feel happier than those of China or Jordan? With a small genetic element that differs between populations, say researchers in a study.
“This is the first study establishes that national variations in terms of happiness (…) have a genetic component,” say its authors Michael Minkov, management of the University of Varna (Bulgaria) and Michael Harris Bond, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Researchers have shown a correlation between a high rate of people saying happy in a country and the important presence of a genetic variation in these populations. The most “happy” countries are those where there is the highest prevalence of “allele”, a genetic variant that prevents the degradation of anandamide, a natural substance that increases the sensory pleasures and reduces pain . They are located in West Africa – particularly Ghana and Nigeria -., And Latin America, especially in Mexico and Colombia
“To feel happy, relaxed and in good spirits does not depend on prosperity and security of a country “
Conversely, people in some Arab countries (Algeria, Jordan), who have a low prevalence allele are significantly less likely to say happy. But also the peoples of East Asia, especially China and Thailand. In Europe, the Swedes, who have a high prevalence of allele, often feel very happy. France did not fare too badly. But the Italians and Spanish, with a low prevalence of allele A, does not say very happy.
“To feel happy, relaxed and in good spirits does not depend on the prosperity and security of a country,” notes Professor Minkov. “In fact, the correlation between happiness and security seems even be reversed. The highest rate of murders and robberies in the world are found in the north of Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. But this is precisely that we find the people happier and more relaxed, “he said.
“One possible explanation for this paradox is that to survive in these stressful societies, you need to genes that help you face these tensions,” he added. However, the demonstration of researchers does not work for the Russians, who have a correct prevalence of allele but does not say happy. “Clearly, the rate of low happiness is not due to a lack of anandamide,” they recognize. They invoke the continuing economic and political problems in that country. Or a genetic unknown … For their study, the researchers worked with data from the World Values Survey, international project on the development of values and beliefs in the world. The figures cover the period 2000 to 2014. Note that anandamide, a cannabinoid, is also present in small quantities in cocoa …